EXAMPLES FROM THE WEB FOR BACK

"But I must get back to my babies," said Mrs. Bines, plaintively.

I'm sportively pretending that I can press it back into shape.

Listen to the voice that tries to win you back to innocence and truth!

He went round to the back door, where he thought it best, in the first place, to knock.

Well, he don't appear to be here; I'll go round to the back part of the house.

"Here's hoping we'll soon be back in God's own country," said Oldaker, raising his glass.

The captain had told him to be back in an hour, and he felt that it was time for him to be stirring.

When you get back, if you get a chance to see him privately, you may tell him there is no danger of that.

With a sharp piece of flint he cut the fur of the animal's back.

I knew we were now in the very country that had driven Mr. Gosse back.

WORD ORIGIN

Old English bæc "back," from Proto-Germanic *bakam (cf. Old Saxon and Middle Dutch bak, Old Frisian bek), with no known connections outside Germanic.

The cognates mostly have been ousted in this sense in other modern Germanic languages by words akin to Modern English ridge (cf. Danish ryg, German Rücken). Many Indo-European languages show signs of once having distinguished the horizontal back of an animal (or a mountain range) from the upright back of a human. In other cases, a modern word for "back" may come from a word related to "spine" (Italian schiena, Russian spina) or "shoulder, shoulder blade" (Spanish espalda, Polish plecy).

To turn (one's) back on (someone or something) "ignore" is from early 14c. Behind (someone's) back "clandestinely" is from late 14c.

To know (something) like the back of one's hand, implying familiarity, is first attested 1893. The first attested use of the phrase is from a dismissive speech made to a character in Robert Louis Stevenson's "Catriona":

The story, a sequel to "Kidnapped," has a Scottish setting and context, and the back of my hand to you was noted in the late 19th century as a Scottish expression meaning "I will have nothing to do with you" [e.g. "Jamieson's Dictionary of the Scottish Language"]. In English generally, the back of (one's) hand has been used to imply contempt and rejection since at least 1300. Perhaps the connection of a menacing dismissal is what made Stevenson choose that particular anatomical reference.

MORE RELATED WORDS FOR BACK

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